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Dean Alford

ATLANTA — A plan by a now-defunct energy consortium to build a coal-fired power plant near Sandersville has died a quiet death. The Georgia Environmental Protection Division has rejected an application to give Power4Georgians another 18 months to begin construction on the $2.1 billion project.

The last permit the consortium received, back in 2014, set a deadline of April 2016 for work to begin, EPD Director Richard Dunn wrote in a letter last month to Dean Alford, the driving force behind the project. Dunn’s letter denied a request for an extension Power4Georgians sent the EPD just before that deadline.

“Upon review of your April 12, 2016, letter, and the relevant facts, your request for extension is denied and approval to construct the facility … is hereby deemed invalid,” Dunn’s letter stated.

Alford, a former member of the University System of Georgia Board of Regents, was charged last fall with criminal attempt to commit theft by taking and racketeering in connection with a different energy project.

A civil suit filed in that case accuses him of defrauding 39 investors out of $6 million in a Ponzi scheme stemming from a project that was supposed to convert municipal solid waste into fuel pellets. Alford has denied the charges.

While utilities across the country – including Georgia Power Co. – were retiring coal plants during the last decade to reduce their reliance on coal, Power4Georgians was pushing against that tide with plans to build an 850-megawatt coal plant in Georgia.

As originally constituted, the consortium included several of the state’s electric membership corporations. But as planning for the project lagged amid concerns that the Obama administration was about to crack down on carbon emissions from coal plants, the EMCs pulled out, leaving Power4Georgians scrambling for other financing sources.

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